Farhana Sahibzada was once a frustrated cook after moving to the United States many years ago. She and her husband longed for those Indian/Pakistani dishes from their home, but did not have the means or right ingredients to make them. Over the years, Farhana has simplified the cooking process and with the wide availability of ingredients that can be sourced along with technological advances in kitchen tools, Indian/Pakistani cuisine is a snap. With Farhana’s work as a home cook, chef, restaurant/catering owner, and culinary instructor, her knowledge can now be your knowledge with recipes from her cookbook, Flavorful Shortcuts To Indian/Pakistani Cooking. She starts with a brief profile and history of some spices used in Pakistani/Indian cooking like saffron, garam masala, and turmeric powder. She goes on to talk about the health benefits of herbs and spices. With her years of experience, she shares short cuts and tips that she has learned in her cooking process along with time saving kitchen tools.
I’d like to give a big thank you to Melissa’s culinary team and Farhana who prepared the following dishes with the utmost care and expertise.
In the “Indian/Pakistani Street Foods and Snacks!” chapter, Samosas are a popular street food in India and Pakistan. Like other cuisines, samosas are pockets of goodness contained in a crispy crust or shell like wontons or egg rolls in Chinese cuisine. Farhana’s version is vegan but I’ve also seen versions with lamb, chicken, and even cheese in other cuisines like Kenyan. It’s a portable street food and can be eaten on the go. These are great for parties and potlucks. Rating: 5/5
The Traditional Fruit Chaat is a beautiful way to share the bountiful world of produce. In California, we are lucky to be able to grow and readily source beautiful fresh fruits like mangoes, apples, bananas, grapes, strawberries, guava, papaya, and oranges. It is just sweet enough with a tropical fruit salad look and feel to it. This would be great for brunch or served at a potluck. Rating: 5/5
In the “Chutneys, Raitas and Other Condiments” chapter, Mint Chutney one of the most popular condiments for daily meals. You will also see this on the table at many Indian/Pakistani restaurants. It has a minty, sweet, and a tad spicy flavor that lends itself well to pretty much anything from fresh vegetables, naan, samosas, rice, etc. I just love mint chutney so much! Rating: 5/5
Cucumber Raita is also a great condiment used for summer meals due to the cooling effect of the yogurt for the body, especially for the hot and humid summers in India and Pakistan. This refreshing condiment is reminiscent of a chunky tzatziki. It is great for dipping vegetables and naan, but would also do well to tame the spiciness of an entrée while adding flavor. Rating: 4.5/5
In the “Vegetable Dishes the Indian/Pakistani Way” chapter, Aloo Gajjar Mattar is made with potatoes, carrots, and peas that are cooked in mild spices and herbs with onions and tomatoes. It has a hearty enough flavor to eat on its own for a vegan diet or even paired as a side dish to a chicken entrée. Rating: 4/5
In the “From the Grill” chapter, Ground Beef Seekh Kabobs are a snap to make. This is a dish seen in many cuisines (like kefta and kofta) utilizing different spices with different meats (chicken, beef, and/or lamb) and grilled to juicy perfection. It is like a meatball or hamburger served in a “hot dog” shape. The outside has the lovely charred flavor from the grill while the interior is juicy and tender with herbaceous flavor. This is one of my favorite items to order in Mediterranean cuisine. I hardly ever see it on Indian restaurant menus and would love to see it more often. Rating: 4.5/5
In the “Indian/Pakistani Desserts” chapter, Kulfi is an Indian/Pakistani version of ice cream with a nutty richness with flavors of saffron and cardamom. Topped with seasonal berries like strawberries, blueberries, and raspberries, it is the perfect ending to any meal. Rating: 5/5
Flavorful Shortcuts To Indian/Pakistani Cooking is a great resource to add to your kitchen collection!
For more information:
Flavorful Shortcuts To Indian/Pakistani Cooking by Farhana Sahibzada
On the search for an ingredient that you can’t find in the store, check out Melissa’s Produce’s website or call +1.800.588.0151.